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Year: 2006 Type: Report Language: English

A summary of the changes that have taken place in Sierra Leonean women’s lives in the last 20 years in the three thematic research areas of voice and participation, work and access to resources, and bodily integrity entails a situation analysis of women’s pre-conflict, conflict and post-conflict reconstruction activities in these fields. This is because the primary defining feature of the period 1986-2006 is the civil war years of 1991-2002. Armed conflicts, whether inter or intra state, leave behind not only human carnage, massive destruction of physical and socio-economic infrastructure (the Sierra Leone civil war was no exception to this reality), but also at the political level a weak and collapsed state. At the socio-cultural level, war also destroys the patriarchal structures of society like morals, traditions, customs and community, that confine and degrade women and opens up and creates new beginnings. Thus, in studying the changes in Sierra Leonean women’s lives in the period under review, this paper presented to the West Africa Hub Scoping Workshop held from 4-7 July 2006 in Accra, focuses on the challenges brought on by the war, but also the opportunities created by it, to explore how women have or have not used these openings to transform their existence in status and society. The question for investigation then is how Sierra Leonean women have confronted the challenges and opportunities created by the war not only to increase their voices and participation in the public-political space, but also their access to resources and bodily integrity.